At the end of May, I had rose-tinted glasses on while I wrote out a summer bucket list.  Guess what?  Summer is half over and not one of those items was checked off the list.  It’s been one of those summers where every weekend is booked.  The few chances we had a free moment something inevitably interrupted any plans we had.  We aren’t going on a major vacation, and the only short one we had planned was cut event shorter.  While we are fortunate enough to have access to a family shore house, we haven’t made it down there as much as we hoped.

Today,  I crumpled the list up and tossed it in the trash.  I gave up on all the big ideas and started over.  I looked at the calendar, determined to find time to squeeze in some fun in the sun and relaxation.  Instead of having a long list of great adventures, I accepted that we may have one or two small adventures.  But we’ll fill them with laughter, joy, and love.

We’ll head to the shore house and be grateful to have a little taste of that peaceful vacation feeling.  The kind of peaceful moments that rejuvenate and refresh your spirit.  The moment where you sigh and find yourself saying “Ahhhh”.  We’ll create new memories for our little family.  We’ll spend time with loved ones and enjoy every second of it.  We’ll put the screens away and be present in the moment.  We’ll look around at the view from where we stand and take it all in.  We’ll slow down and make the time to enjoy summer.

So, if you are having somewhat of a bummer summer, you still have time to make the best of it.  In the meantime, here are some images of my previous summers spent enjoying the Jersey Shore.  They are holding me over until I can get there.

South Jersey Shore - Wildwood Cape May NJ

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Emily from Sweet Justice Photography shared this stunning wedding and love story with us.  We absolutely love her vision and way with words!

Emily: “Never before was there a love like this; a love that welcomes open + fights for + holds in its arms a new world never thought possible. This was the winter wedding that made everyone’s dreams come true – especially the dreams of this ivory-white bride and smitten groom.

Alex was smitten from the start.

He met Morgan for the first time at a barbecue + Facebook messaged her later that night, asking her if she would hang out with him sometime. She shied away from the situation – it was her first week at college, she had just gotten out of a relationship + he was a sophomore. But that’s what you get when you’re blonde, tall, + gorgeous.

Inevitably, they kept crossing paths at get-togethers + just couldn’t keep their eyes off each other. Morgan took the LEAP – they went on a date!

Within a few months, they were going steady + giddy + sunshiney-faced all the time, + that glow never really faded. Morgan + Alex radiate a classic love – timeless, beautiful, head-over-heels. They are prepared to fall at one another’s feet to serve their love’s needs for the rest of their lives.

A year into their relationship, Morgan + I were co-counselors at Camp Timberline. I still remember crying happy tears with Morgan on the back porch, while everyone was eating dinner, as she told me Alex had asked her father for her hand in marriage.

Here we are another year later, + they are united as one. Minutes after the ceremony, as we took bride + groom portraits outside, Alex smiled at Morgan + said, “Is this the most beautiful you’ve ever felt?” She nodded. “I don’t think you could look anymore beautiful.”

(Que tears welling up!!)

The breathtaking sound of Morgan’s father’s words as he toasted to their marriage still rings in my ears; “Alex, you are worthy of my daughter.”

Vendor Credit: Photographer: Sweet Justice Photography | Makeup: Magnifica Bella | Florist: Orchid Princess FloralWedding Venue: Red Rocks Amphitheater

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So what happens when a guy wants to propose to his event planner girlfriend?  He has to work extra hard at keeping it a surprise.  Nicole is the owner and brand director of Rabbit Rabbit Crew, an event planning and coordination company.  We loved hearing their story of how they met, and got engaged.  And their engagement pictures show off just how cool their engagement session was. 

We actually met on my 18th birthday… many moons ago 🙂 I was a merch girl for a band and was working at a show in Maryland. A friend started talking to his friends and so on and we exchanged digits, not realizing he lived 4 hours away in Virginia. For my birthday, a few friends and I decided to just go for it and took a road trip to to Virginia to meet up. After a lot of wrong turns and a few tourist photo op stops, we made it to Virgina, close to midnight. Travis didn’t want my birthday to be a total bust, spending the whole day in the car, so he took me to fly kites under the moonlight and made lots of jokes about how amazed I was by how close the stars looked (being a city girl and all). Pretty sure I fell in love with him that night.
After 2 years of road trips, “meet you half way” visits, and debates over which is better, Wawa or Sheetz, he moved to Philadelphia and transferred schools so we could be closer.
We have been together for about 13 ish years now and as cliche as it is, he is truly my best friend. We grew up together. I feel really lucky to have someone like him in my life and we can say we grew with each other, through all the changes and challenges life gives you.
June last year he proposed with an Anna Sheffield ring in our home and planned a super sweet dinner at our favorite city restaurant, Talula’s Garden. We made a stop on our way home to our neighborhood spot, Memphis Taproom and he had all of our friends waiting in the beer garden to celebrate. I promise you, it is HARD to surprise me; I am sure he will attest, as a planner, I ask a thousand questions, so being that he pulled it off without me even thinking anything was going on is, well, an accomplishment.
Me being a wedding planner, and Travis a bartender, our schedules don’t always line up. So the time we do have, we like spending together in our home, usually eating lots pizza and hanging with our cat, bear. We like playing board games with our friends, going to shows from the bands we loved in the 90’s, and love making fun of each other even more 🙂
We are getting married this October in New Hope, PA and so, our photographers, and long time friends, Marisa and John from Redfield Photography, spent a day exploring the town with us and made us look super cool in our engagement photos.
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I just got back from a weekend in Wildwood at our family shore house.  I love spending weekends down the shore with family and friends.  It’s a great escape with an endless list of fun things to do.  So it should come as no surprise that I absolutely fell in love with this engagement session.  When you combine a gorgeous couple and the Victorian charm of Cape May with the superb talent of Katelyn James, the result is pure magic.

The unique thing about this session was that Justin and Megan asked if the session could be as if it were a real date!  Megan emailed Katelyn and explained that she wanted their engagement session to be just like a normal date for the two of them.  Katelyn loved this idea, so they did everything that Justin and Megan would normally do: ice cream, bike rides, strolling down the sidewalk near the beach, etc.

The Cape May and Wildwood area is very special to Justin and Megan because his family has vacationed there his whole life and Megan has been joining them the last 4 or 5 summers! Together they’ve built a lot of memories there and had lots of summer date nights in the same places where we did the shoot.  So, we were capturing what would be a normal summer night for the two of them!

Enjoy this charming Cape May, NJ Engagement session!

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Katelyn James is a wedding photographer based in Virginia.  To see more from Megan and Justin’s engagement session, visit Katelyn’s blog.

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In the midst of wedding season we decided to plan our second trip to Italy!  Last summer we visited the Italian Rivierra, Cinque Terre, Pescara, Tocco da Casauria, and stopped by Bologna on our way back to fly out of Milan.  The country was experiencing a major heat wave that was unseasonable for even the locals.  So I took lots of notes last year.  We vowed to never return in the summer, but here we are booked for August 1 to fly into Rome and go down the Amalfi Coast!  I’d be excited to go to Italy ANYTIME of year, you just have to be prepared.  The weather luckily is predicted to be 10-20 degrees cooler than when we were there (PHEW!)  So we may not go through as much clothing each day, saving us time at the laundromat.
If you find yourself planning a trip to Italy in the near future here are a few tips we learned along the way.

Santa Margherita Italy Travel Photographer - Carly Fuller PhotographyPortofino Italy Travel Photographer - Carly Fuller Photography

Pack Light: Don’t forget a european outlet converter.  Headphone Splitter for the plane ride and trains between towns.  We watched a couple movies together that helped make time fly by. Pack clothes that can be mix ‘n’ matched.  I pack quite a few outfits that are cute but on their last leg so that I feel comfortable throwing them away.  This allows you to have space in your suitcase to bring back WINE! (Tip below for how to follow the rules and pack safely)

Do Research:  Before heading to Italy or any foreign country for that matter, search the web, pinterest, especially Instagram to find hidden gems to visit.  I made a list of a few hot spots that I had to see and then left the rest up to chance.  We stayed in all Hotels last year, but this year our friends convinced Freddie to try AirB&B and I couldn’t be more excited 🙂 Google & read other people’s travel blogs, I found the most helpful resources were of past traveling photographers.Cinque Terre Italy Beach Travel Photographer - Carly Fuller PhotographyCinque Terre Italy Beach Travel Photographer - Carly Fuller PhotographyCinque Terre Italy Beach Travel Photographer - Carly Fuller Photography

Reviews: Don’t always trust the reviews that are listed.  Do your homework.  Ask around for recommendations and really read the negative reviews to see what could go wrong. I found out with our trip to Italy that booking hotels was not my forte.  Freddie was so much better at finding the cleanest, nicest, and convenient places to stay.  Expect to have very firm beds, thin pillows, and a full size.  If you get better than it’s a miracle!

Explore: Allow for time in your trip abroad to just roam around, put the phones away, hold the plans, and just go explore.  Find new places or things that everyone hasn’t tagged yet.  Some of our favorite spots along the Italian Riviera and the drive through Tuscany were the hidden gems we found just boondoggling (as Wendy would say!) We even found on our last night in Rapallo a party in the square. The restaurants had opened up late and brought chairs out on the street to listen to the live American Jazz band.  The surprises are the best.Cinque Terre Ferry Boat Italy Travel Photographer - Carly Fuller PhotographyCinque Terre Italy Travel Photographer - Carly Fuller PhotographyCinque Terre Italy Beach Travel Photographer - Carly Fuller PhotographyRapallo Italy Travel Photographer - Carly Fuller PhotographyRapallo Italy Travel Photographer - Carly Fuller Photography

**Bring Wine Home:  We were able to bring back 12 bottles of our favorite wine.  We threw away our old worn out clothes and had packed light on our way to Italy. We had brought 3 suitcases between the two of us (2 checked and 1 carry on).  This allowed for room in 2 of the checked suitcases for the wine.  We wrapped the wine in our clothes.  At the airports there were these plastic wrap stands, yes it may seem silly, but for 10 euro you can have your entire bag wrapped.  We are pretty SURE this is what helped our bottles arrive safely.

April-September MUST haves:

  • Light flowy dresses, tops, and skirts.  Shorts and pants were my enemy.  
  • Bring extra bathing suits.  I loved my cover up more than expected, so invest in a soft lightweight, cover up.  
  • Guys bring at least 2-3 t-shirts per day, a couple polos, and one dress shirt.  Most of the fancy restaurants in the summer only expect guys to wear a polo shirt.
  • Shoes shoes shoes, I can’t stress the proper shoes enough.  Freddie had brought a pair of dock shoes that killed and blistered his foot the first day.  Be sure you bring shoes that are reliable and worn in already.  Fancy shoes are SO unnecessary but for fancy nights.  
  • Toms, Sperry, Sandals, and wedges.  They all laid flat and didn’t take up much space. The Toms were my favorite and dried out fastest.
  • Thin strapped cross shoulder purse.  It is smart to keep your purse on you at all times.  When we were in Florence a woman put her new huge expensive handbag on the back of a chair and a gypsy walked by and stole it.  Her passport, her ID, money, and everything was in it! (DON’T trust your valuables are safe without your eye on them)
  • Lightweight beach bag. Freddie and I rented a car and took quite a few day drives to beaches, and random swims along the mediterranean.  So having a small bag was SO useful, we were able to put our clothes in it while we swam and towels.
  • Waterproof camera/video camera.  We spent so much time walking around and swimming in random spots, so having a waterproof camera was so awesome.  We brought it out with us when we swam at Santa Margherita and took really fun pics of the coast.  It was also helpful it had a wrist strap to keep it safe so we didn’t lose it or have it stolen.
  • Extra shampoo/conditioner.  If you are flying through Heathrow airport be sure to check their rules on carry on container sizes.  We had to throw away SO much of our toiletries because of our layover.  We needed extra body wash too since we were showering at least twicea day.  Santa Margherita Italy Beach Travel Photographer - Carly Fuller PhotographyPortofino Italy Travel Photographer - Carly Fuller PhotographyPortofino Italy Travel Photographer - Carly Fuller Photography
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